I am a mother who has lost a child.
I am reminded of this every day.
I don’t say that to get sympathy. I am simply stating a fact.
I know some of you reading this know what I am talking about first hand. You have lost an unborn child, an infant, a toddler, a teenager, or an adult child. No matter the age, if you have lost a child you don’t forget that. Others reading this thankfully do not have personal knowledge, but you can imagine that you would never forget losing a child.
Sometimes I remember my sweet Beckett when one of my other kids mentions him. Sometimes I remember him when I see another child around his age and think of what he would be doing now. Yesterday I found one of his big green pacifiers under our bed.
We have photos around our home and multiple boxes full of memories. Remembering Beckett is special. It’s something I WANT to do.
A year and a half into this life, I know people are still nervous about saying the wrong thing around me. I don’t want people to walk on eggshells around me. I like remembering my son. I don’t mind if you, or your child, brings him up in a conversation.
Obviously, every grieving parent is different. But as for me, I’m not easily upset or offended. People around me say things without thinking and it normally doesn’t bother me. They can talk about their kids annoying them, and I don’t secretly shame them and think, ‘They should be thankful they have kids’. Listen, my kids annoy me sometimes too. It’s life. It’s not perfect, we aren’t perfect. I’m okay with that.
But there is one popular phrase that I just can’t stay silent about any longer.
It’s something I see on memes, t-shirts and coffee mugs. I hear it in conversations around me. It’s become the funny catch phrase of mom’s everywhere. It comes in many forms, but the punch line is usually:
“I kept the kids alive today, go me!”
“Goal: Keep the tiny humans alive”
I get it. There is this whole mommy war/mom guilt culture going on where moms feel pressure to perform and live a Pinterest life. These memes are trying to put the pressure to be perfect to the side and focus on what’s really important in parenting.
But let me tell you, from my angle—these are painful.
The biggest thing I struggle with in my grief is a sense of failure. My job as a mom is to protect my child. And my child died. I know in my head that his death was not because of something I did or did not do. It was not my fault. I know that. But I still struggle with the nagging feeling of failure.
I have hesitated to write this post for so long because I do not want sympathy. (I’ll take prayer any day!), and I do not want to shame really good moms who I have seen jokingly use this phrase.
My aim is simply to make you think twice and make you think deeper.
I mentioned a sense of failure I feel. Failure is directly related to what we believe the goal is. If your goal really is just to keep your kids alive, then share the meme, buy the coffee mug—go all out. But when I look deep inside, that’s not my goal. And I’m willing to bet it’s not really your goal either.
Brian and I have a mutual goal in parenting, and it’s this:
We want our kids to experience a great love.
First, we pray they know the overwhelming love that comes from our Great God.
Then we pray they are secure in an unconditional love from their family, no matter the circumstances around them.
We also want them to display a love for other people and to love and enjoy the beauty of the world around them.
When your goal is for your child to experience love, you can accomplish this no matter how short their life is.
And if you show this love to your children, don’t be ashamed of it and don’t minimize it! In aiming to not shame other moms, I fear that we have gone too far to the other extreme. We are almost afraid to share the really good moments in life because we are afraid of sugar coating our life, or coming across like we have it all together. Let me put your mind at ease: nobody thinks you are perfect all the time. (And if they do, that’s on them—not on you!)
If you think I am perfect all the time, come live in my house for a day. It might not take that long, come visit for a few hours. In that time you will see me lose my patience, you may see me staring at my phone instead of the Lego creation my kid just made. You may find them sitting in front of the TV instead of a book. You may see me eat a piece of chocolate instead of a carrot!
But you will also see me hug and love my kids. You might see me get down on their level and listen to a story they want to share about their day. You could see me work for an hour on a really healthy meal that will nourish my family. And you would be invited to sit with us around the table as we engage in real, meaningful conversation. And I’m not embarrassed about any of this. Because the truth is, you might be inspired to do the same in your own home!
I hope no one ever feels shame or embarrassment that they don’t measure up to the Wright family. Goodness, we should not be a ruler for anyone! But I do pray that our lives point to a God who gives us strength to live an intentional life full of His love.
Sweet struggling mom, I don’t want to call you out, I want to call you up.
I want to challenge you to pray and set some goals for your family that go a little further than just staying alive. Yes this life is hard. There are seasons of survival. I have been there. We have walked through that time. But that is not the season I want to live in forever. And it’s a season you don’t have to live in forever. There is hope. There are glimpses of really good even in the middle of bad. Open your eyes, sweet friend, and give yourself some credit when you see it.
Let’s start now and let’s start here. Comment below and tell me a parenting moment you are proud of or something in life you have succeeded in recently. Don’t do this to show the world how perfect you are, do it to encourage the rest of us.
Let’s be people that inspire each other!